The Season of Asking

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'Tis the season of giving but also the season of asking. I work for a nonprofit organization and, like most nonprofits, this is when we ask for year-end donations. It is a time of the year when mailboxes overflow with letters requesting support.

This is also the season I remember the donation that never came. Let me explain. David, a cancer patient, came to the social service agency where I work to participate in a nutrition class and sign his son up for a support group. When I first met him, in his baseball cap and sweats, he looked younger than his 40 years. He explained that he was on a new cancer treatment and it was working well. His smile was welcoming, his positive attitude inspiring.

The next time I saw David was six months later. I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting in our reception area and as I passed him he looked up and said hello. I realized with a shock that it was David. He had declined so much that I hadn't recognized him. He told me that his treatment had stopped working, how he worried about his wife and children. We had a very emotional and moving conversation.

Then David looked up and said something that surprised me.  "I want to make a donation."  When I asked him why now, given all that he had going on in his life, he looked back at me with his wonderful smile and said "It's an investment in my recovery." He took a donation envelope and said he would send it in once he got home.

David passed away a week after that conversation, and we never did receive his donation.  But his words, like donations, are part of his legacy. So this year, when you come home to a mailbox filled with donation requests, I ask you to remember David the investment that you can make in the lives of real people right here in our community.


With a Perspectives, I'm Rob Tufel.

Rob Tufel is executive director of a non-profit in San Jose that provides support services for people with cancer, their families and friends.